Rhapsodize Audio Presents:
A selection from the Chicago Anthology
Music by Chicago Rhythm Kings with I've Found A New Baby
Anthologies of poetry generally fall into two classes. The more celebrated collections, like Palgrave’s Golden Treasury and the Oxford Book of English Verse, are collations of the best of the best – the greatest hits of the greatest poets, so to speak. The other type of collection could be designated the occasional anthology, which focuses on the poetry associated with an era, an event or a locality. In such collections, relevance of subject generally takes precedence over quality of workmanship or originality of expression. However, in these anthologies one often finds a sense of pioneering energy and a touching ingenuousness which in many cases more than compensates for the crudity of the versification.
A notable example of the second type is the Chicago Anthology, published in 1916, a veritable smorgasbord of the work of American poets of the early Twentieth Century, many of whom have since disappeared into obscurity. The anthologists were Charles G. Blanden and Minna Mathison, who were both competent if not particularly inspired poets. The sole contributor who is still a recognized poet today was Carl Sandburg; many of the others attained reputations in other fields, but not as poets, even in their own lifetimes. Some became famous for social activism, such as Angela Morgan and Florence Kiper Frank; others for work in other literary genres, like Emerson Hough, a prolific producer of novels about the Wild West, while yet others were best known as University academics, like Edwin Preston Dargan. Other interesting characters, such as Jazz Age bad boy Maxwell Bodenheim, who was primarily a novelist, and Mark Turbyfil, ballet dancer and celebrity of the Chicago arts scene, are also represented.
The jingoistic nature of the collection is reflected in this excerpt from the Introduction, composed by the literary editor, Llewellyn Jones:
recently many people have come to regard poetry as a new industry with Chicago as its most busy distributing center. Five or ten years ago, these people imagine, there was rhymed sentiment but not the poetry to make such an anthology as this possible, and now, they rejoice, we have reached the happy point where we can have a Chicago Anthology.
Jones was active in the University of Chicago Poetry Club, which was founded a year after the Chicago Anthology was published.
Not all the poetry in this collection is first rate, but much of it breathes a spirit of pioneer enthusiasm. The listener is invited to set aside his or her prejudices, and enjoy the following ramble through the poetic aspirations of these voices from the past, presented for you by the rhapsodes of Rhapsodize Audio.
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